Beyond the bedside: how CIOs are changing patient outcomes

August 7, 2023

As the world becomes increasingly digitised, the healthcare industry finds itself standing at a crossroads. It is a complex intersection where the urgency to innovate meets the challenge of overhauling legacy operational systems with more moving parts than most can count.

In this landscape, the role of hospital Chief Information Officer (CIOs) has evolved dramatically. No longer limited to managing IT infrastructure, CIOs today are at the forefront of transformative change. They strategise, orchestrate, and drive the integration of technology in their organisations.

Within hospitals, a key focus of their role is operations. From harnessing real time location services for asset tracking, to leveraging predictive analytics for incident management, hospitals are beginning to openly embrace new solutions more rapidly.

Emerging trends are not only reshaping the way healthcare is perceived but also the way it is delivered. It’s moving towards intelligent spaces with optimised environmental monitoring, and evolving task management systems, powered by the dynamic capabilities of workflow automation. Additionally, the importance of secure and efficient communication has never been more of a priority.

While standing on the brink of this technological era is exciting, for CIOs it is also an opportunity to make a mark, to navigate these changes, champion these innovations, and drive their organisations towards a technologically-advanced future.

Emerging Trends and Technologies in the Healthcare Sector

The evolution of healthcare technology is driving revolutionary changes in the way hospitals operate, leaving CIOs with critical decisions to make about what to prioritise, what to adopt and what to leave behind. And while many of these developments were futuristic concepts just a few years ago, now they are everyday realities, waiting to be harnessed to their full potential.

Asset Tracking and the IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) are prime examples. Gone are the days when the hunt for misplaced equipment must consume precious time and resources.

Real-time location services, powered by intelligent integration and automation platforms, enable the tracking of assets, enhancing utilisation rates, and minimising misplacement.

This new reality not only reduces unnecessary expenditure but also directly influences patient care, ensuring vital equipment is readily available when needed.

In fact, without these systems, nurses can spend an average of 42 minutes per shift searching for or dealing with broken equipment. Asset tracking capabilities are undoubtedly a game-changer when it comes to significantly improving these outcomes!

Incident Management is another critical area being transformed by Predictive Analytics.

It’s a shift from reactive measures to proactive and informed, smarter decision-making.

Smart incident management tools, including Artificial Intelligence and predictive analytics, empower healthcare providers with data-driven insights. These insights allow for faster response times, better resource allocation, and more efficient resolution of issues.

The ability to anticipate potential challenges and address them swiftly, significantly improves patient outcomes and enhances operational efficiency.

As for Environment Monitoring, advanced sensor technologies offer real-time critical data about environmental conditions, such as temperature, humidity, air quality, and more.

Such monitoring not only ensures compliance with health and safety regulations but also directly impacts patient health and comfort. It’s a leap towards proactive control and optimisation of healthcare environments, ultimately contributing to better patient care.

In Task Management, workflow automation has started to play a pivotal role. Software systems are facilitating task allocation and progress tracking, automating routine workflows and reducing human error. This not only again boosts operational efficiency but also allows healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care than administrative tasks.

Finally, Secure Messaging has seen a leap with the advent of improved communication technology  and devices . The importance of secure, fast, and reliable communication in healthcare cannot be overstated.

New and emerging technology can take this to a whole new level, allowing for real-time, high-speed communication across vast hospital networks. The impact goes beyond just improving coordination; it also enables immediate response to emergencies, timely updates, and efficient delivery of healthcare services.

These emerging trends and technologies are creating a canvas for an exciting, transformative future in the healthcare industry, and the role of CIOs in navigating and integrating these advancements will be key to leveraging their full potential.

The Impact of Not Embracing Emerging Technologies

But what happens when CIOs fail to introduce — or even consider — these technologies in their hospitals?

Like anything new, choosing not to embrace the evolving technologies in healthcare may seem a comfortable choice, but it can result in severe repercussions.

Firstly, not keeping up with technological advancements can leave healthcare organisations operationally behind.

In the era of smart spaces, automated workflows, and real-time asset tracking, sticking to traditional methods can slow down processes, reduce efficiency, and negatively affect patient care quality. For example, persisting with manual incident management could lead to slower response times, eventually diminishing patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Financial implications are another considerable concern. The efficiency and cost-saving potential of emerging technologies cannot be overlooked.

Continued reliance on outdated systems can lead to increased operational costs, loss due to misplaced assets, and missed opportunities for leveraging data insights for cost optimisation.

Interestingly, the costs of late adoption can be higher than jumping in early, as organisations find themselves playing catch-up with the rest of the industry, potentially requiring a significant overhaul of existing systems.

From a strategic perspective, failing to adopt these technologies can result in healthcare organisations becoming less competitive. Today, patients increasingly seek healthcare providers that use advanced technology to provide efficient and high-quality care. Falling behind in this tech-led race could impact a hospital’s reputation and attractiveness to prospective patients, in addition to its funding.

Lastly, these emerging technologies offer ways to improve patient safety, quality of care, and patient experiences. Hesitation to introduce advancements can mean missed opportunities to elevate patient care, potentially affecting patient outcomes and satisfaction.

It’s crucial to remember that in the fast-paced world of healthcare technology, standing still can equate to moving backwards. It is important CIOs champion the cause of technology adoption, ensuring their organisation remains relevant, competitive, and capable of delivering top-notch patient care.

Crafting an Effective Strategy for Adopting Emerging Health-Tech

With an understanding of the significance of emerging technologies, the next step for CIOs is to strategise their adoption. Incorporating new technologies isn’t about implementing them in isolation, but weaving them into the existing framework seamlessly and intelligently. Here’s where a strategic approach is vital.

At the heart of an effective strategy is the identification of organisational needs and pain points. CIOs need to have a clear understanding of their hospital’s unique challenges, in order to prioritise areas for transformation.

For example, if asset management is a significant issue, priority can be given to integrating asset-tracking technologies.

Next, CIOs should aim for comprehensive yet phased implementation. An abrupt technology overhaul might cause operational disruptions, shock or change fatigue. Instead, a gradual, step-by-step approach can be more effective and manageable, with key priorities identified and scheduled first.

This allows for proper staff training at each stage, ensuring smooth transition and optimised usage of each new technology.

Healthcare automation and integration solutions, like Olinqua, can play a critical role in this strategy. Olinqua’s software is designed to bridge the gap between healthcare operations and emerging technologies. It can aid in streamlining tasks, enabling real-time communication, automating workflows, and more. It’s a tool that can address many common pain points, from cost and time to hesitation in tech adoption.

To enable successful transformation, CIOs must also promote a culture of innovation and openness to change within their organisations. The process of technology advancement is not just about deploying new tools; it’s also about shifting mindsets and encouraging all stakeholders to embrace these advancements.

The process doesn’t end at implementation. Continuous monitoring and fine-tuning are necessary to ensure these technologies are delivering the desired outcomes. It’s about constantly learning, adapting, and improving.

As we embark on this exciting journey into the future of hospital IT, one thing is abundantly clear: change is the only certainty, and staying in sync with this change is not just beneficial but crucial.

To further discuss technology integration in hospitals, reach out to our expert team.